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Tuesday, May 23, 2017
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Thursday, July 11, 2013 1:35 PM
KOKOMO – “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore.  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me.  I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
    
When my ancestors, Scots Irish immigrants from Ulster, immigrated to America in the early part of the 18th Century, they were not greeted by Lady Liberty and her famous poem. The statue had not been erected nor the words of the poem written. However, they were welcomed by a vast land whose siren call around the world could be heard by all, “Come to America and be free!”
    
For centuries, the downtrodden and oppressed from around the world have made their way to our shores asking only one thing, an opportunity to work and live in freedom. The flow of immigrants to our country has enriched our character and forged a nation that has been stronger, more creative and more successful than the other, generally homogenous, countries of the world. What country would not be made stronger by a man who says, “I am going to take everything that I have and move my family to the United States where there is opportunity and freedom?”
    
Of course, for over 200 years, Americans have resisted welcoming new immigrants to their country. They’ve feared that the new arrivals would threaten the prosperity that they have come to know. Our nation, as great as it is, has resisted immigration by Irish Catholics, Polish, Germans, Italians, Jews and Chinese, to name just a few. We would have resisted immigration of black Africans if they had not been forced to come here for the economic benefit of the South. I don’t know if it is merely fear of change, fear of the unknown or a natural tendency to fear anyone who doesn’t look like us that has motivated Americans over history to fight immigration. America has become a club that after trying desperately to get in, we try desperately to keep everyone else out.
  • KOKOMO –  Since my retirement as a Republican county and district chairman, I have spent much of my free time reading social media and exploring the many interesting people who call themselves Hoosier Republicans. I recently ventured out and joined the Cripple Creek Republican Study Group up near Goiter’s Notch. We met at Elsie’s Cup O’ Joe and Laundromat. I fell into a bucket of luck because the group was beginning its study of a new book by Pastor Emily Miway titled, “Free to Be, Just Like Me.” The leader of our study group, Marsha Tablelapper, is a prominent thought leader in the area and she dove right in to her analysis of Pastor Miway’s new book. “This book just  reminds me why I can’t stand our Indiana General Assembly. Like Pastor Miway says, ‘All legislators are required to go over to the IU Medical School and have first year medical students remove all of their memory about what the good book says.’” Being naturally inquisitive, I asked, “What exactly are you referring to?” “You know what the good book says about the sanctity of life!” chortled Tablelapper. “Ohhhhhh, you mean you are not happy with Indiana legislators not repealing the death sentence?”
  • KOKOMO – Way back in 1974, when I was working in Washington, D.C., as an intern for an Indiana congressman, it didn’t take long for this Hoosier to figure out that there was no such thing as equality of the two houses of Congress. A cursory look told you that the U. S. Senate had nicer offices, a better dining room, neater chambers and a host of other perks not available to their House brethren. Heck, the senators generally dressed better, talked smoother and carried themselves with an air that was reminiscent of their ancient Roman role models. As an intern who took every available opportunity to sit in both chambers and observe the proceedings, it readily became apparent to me that there was another huge difference between the House and the Senate. The Senate possessed an air of decorum that was strikingly different from that of the House. The senators always referred to each other as “The gentleman from Such and Such.” House members might refer to each other as only slightly more polite than, “Hey, dipstick.”  The most noticeable difference between the two houses was it appeared that senators liked to hear themselves speak.
  • KOKOMO – Please forgive me for being Mr. Obvious here, but Indiana’s highways didn’t just begin to crumble last year and our bridges didn’t just start falling down at the same time. The deterioration of infrastructure begins the day a new highway is completed or a new bridge erected. Anyone driving around the Hoosier State over the past 10 years knows that roads and bridges have been getting progressively more in need of repair.  Why then, in the name of Harold Handley’s ghost, did we just notice last year that we had a problem? Well, sure, there was the impending collapse of the bridge on I-69 at Lafayette to focus attention on the issue, but surely someone in the Indiana Legislature had to notice the potential problem before then.  
       
  • KOKOMO – Some good news for my liberal and Democrat friends suffering from DTIBS (Donald Trump Irritable Bowel Syndrome.) Someday, maybe just someday, your grandchildren and great grandchildren will take a trip to Washington, D.C., to see the newly constructed President Donald Trump Monument. While I was in our nation’s capital for the inauguration, I began the process of scouting locations for the Trump Monument. There’s a yuuuuuuge green space between the Roosevelt Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial that would be a perfect location for a bigly monument to the accomplishments of Donald J. Trump. When I say bigly, I mean bigly. I’m talking at least two tons of monumental bronze hair! For those of you who have spent the time since Nov. 8 wailing, moaning and living in a perpetual purple haze of melancholy funk, I say, “Take heart. If historians can make Franklin Delano Roosevelt worthy of his own memorial, there may be an equal opportunity for President Donald J. Trump.”
  • KOKOMO – Some people put on their bucket lists big events like the Super Bowl, the World Series, the Indianapolis 500 and other similar extravaganzas. You may end up crossing the event off of your list with joy and other times with a shrug that says, “I can’t believe that was ever on my list.”  Attending the inauguration of our 45th president was the fulfillment of one of my personal bucket list items and I was not disappointed. My wife and I arrived in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday and packed a week’s worth of activities into three days.  During our time in the nation’s capital I experienced a plethora of interesting sights, sounds and, yes, smells.  Here are just a few of my observations in no particular order of occurrence nor significance: Heading to Washington, we were concerned about security. Reading national publications and watching network news reports pretty much had us convinced that we would be lucky to make it out alive, considering the “millions” of anti-Trump radicals who would be in town to disrupt the inauguration and exact their revenge on the Trump faithful. The reality of inauguration week was much different than the story line hyped by the media.
  • KOKOMO – When my text alert dinged on Election Day, at 11 a.m., I was surprised by the message, something to the effect of, “I will be at the Cone Palace at 12:30 if you want to join me. Invite our Howard County friends.”  With that simple text, on the biggest day of his political life, Eric Holcomb signaled that he was going to be a different kind of governor. On a day when most candidates would be preening and posturing for television cameras in a big media market, a casually dressed Eric and Janet Holcomb drove up to Kokomo to dine on Coney dogs and corn dogs with his friends. The food was great and the conversation was relaxed and decidedly unpolitical in nature. I just wish that I could have been as relaxed that day. Our new governor has demonstrated all over the state of Indiana that he is a confident, personable and focused man. He piles up friends the way Indianapolis Colts’ opponents pile up rushing yards. During Holcomb’s entire political career he has been as interested in friend-raising as he has fundraising. He intuitively knows that money comes and goes, but friends are with you forever. That maxim has served our new governor very well. I’ve been around a few governors in my 40-plus years of political involvement and I’ve made watching them sort of a hobby. For some, it was somewhat akin to watching guards playing for Bobby Knight at IU. When they went up for a jump shot, you had a feeling that they had one eye on the coach, seeking his approval. We all know that that doesn’t work very well over the long run. The same is true for governors. It is hard to hit a jump shot when you have your eye on something else.
  • KOKOMO – One of the history classes required when I pursued my history minor at Ball State University was “The History of the United States from 1950 to Present.” My left-leaning professor (redundant, I know) spent a seemingly interminable amount of time discussing the Red Scare of the Fifties and the Hollywood blacklisting of Communist sympathizers. We were told how horrible it was to deny someone the ability to make a living on the basis of their political beliefs. We were told that Sen. Joe McCarthy was evil and that all of the card-carrying Hollywood Communists were victims of a budding right-wing conspiracy. You would think that more than 60 years after the Red Scare and the resultant decades-long drumbeat regarding the evils of the blacklist that the message would have been universally received. Sad to say, there is still a group devoted to blacklisting of people for their political beliefs or business relationships. That group is the Hollywood elitists and their friends sprinkled across America from sea to shining sea. From the time that Donald Trump’s presidential nomination became inevitable to his election and to this very day, many pious liberal whack jobs, A-listers, social activists of the disturbed kind and sour-faced whiney pants have launched determined efforts to punish anything and anyone related to Donald Trump.
  • KOKOMO – These are heady days for the Republican Party.  A new Republican president will take office with a Republican-controlled House and Senate.  In addition, Republicans control 31 governorships and have a piece of governmental leadership in all but six states.  Indiana is no exception. Republicans now control every statewide office with the exception of Democrat Sen. Joe Donnelly. Republicans hold seven of the nine congressional seats. The GOP also has super majorities in both houses of the Indiana Legislature. This is all pretty amazing stuff for a political party that was written off back in July and August. You remember the headlines don’t you?  “The End of a Republican Party: FiveThirtyEight.”  “Are You Ready for the End of the Republican Party: Esquire.”  “Fareed Zakaria:  The End of the Republican Party.”
  • KOKOMO – It’s Wednesday, the day following the greatest upset in presidential election history, and pollsters, pundits and media elites all finally agree, the path to the White House for Donald Trump is wider. That path is called Pennsylvania Avenue! I must admit that it was with great joy that I stayed awake until 3:30 a.m. watching the election results and the tortuous process of seeing the entire mainstream elitist media, shell-shocked pollsters and humbled pundits take over three hours to come to the realization of what was obvious when the Wisconsin domino fell into the face of Hillary Clinton’s presidential ambition. Despite healthy leads for Trump in Pennsylvania and Michigan, media experts still went to elaborate electronic walls and pontificated on Clinton’s ability to “draw to the inside straight.” For the past four months we witnessed the greatest corporate/media/governmental election conspiracy in the history of our country. Each day was filled with carefully orchestrated releases of adverse polls, negative stories about Trump and a treatment of Hillary Clinton that virtually had CNN’s Wolf Blitzer measuring for new pink drapes in the Oval Office. The message was clear: Republicans were running from Trump. Trump was a hopeless cad, with a long history of mistreating women. Hispanics disliked Trump. Blacks disliked Trump. Women disliked Trump. Jews disliked Trump. Gays disliked Trump.
  • KOKOMO – The big question being asked in both Republican and Democratic party headquarters around Indiana is what will be the down-ballot impact of Donald Trump. I’m sure that when John Gregg’s not dreaming about government provided healthcare and when Evan Bayh isn’t having nightmares about paying property taxes on all of his out-of-state homes, they lie awake at night and ponder whether Donald J. Trump will be a help or a hindrance to their race. In my capacity as both a district and county Republican chairman, I admit that I have spent quite a bit of time studying and researching the impact of The Donald on not only the elections for governor and U. S. senator, but also on races for commissioners, councilmen, judges, treasurers and auditors. Looking back on the May Indiana Primary, you had to have been impressed with the scale of Trump’s victory over Ted Cruz. Trump thumped Cruz about as uniformly and as completely as you can do it. He scored the touchdown, kicked the extra point, spiked the ball and then led the band in the fight song. Pretty good showing for a candidate who many in our party, including myself, had serious doubts about.  
        
  • KOKOMO – Indiana deserves a better United States senator than Evan Bayh. Although I may be accused of using trite political rhetoric, I assure you, my motives and words are sincere. I have five reasons why Evan Bayh should not be elected to the Senate. First, and perhaps most important, Evan Bayh was a totally ineffective senator for 12 years.  The “boy governor” turned “boy senator” was so focused on riding a Senate seat to the White House that he assiduously avoided saying anything or taking any legislative stands that might raise any political angst in either conservative Indiana or in the liberal bastions of the liberal left coasts. Don’t believe me? Stuart Rothenberg from the Washington Post wrote critically of Evan Bayh and quoted James Hohmann from the Power Post: “One of the many reasons that so many of his Democratic colleagues did not like Evan Bayh during his tenure in the Senate was his excessive caution."
  • KOKOMO – Just listening to the drivel falling out of John Gregg’s mouth can give you first class case of the Hoosier heebie-jeebies. As I listen to the political flatulence that passes for the Gregg for Governor advertising campaign, a wave of emotions washes over me. The wave of emotions is somewhat akin to the feeling I would get if I was told that I had an incurable flesh-eating bacteria. You know it will eventually end, but how much misery will you have to go through to reach the end. It never ceases to amaze me that Democrats still think they can get away with the politics of the big lie. I suppose if I knew that the army of fact checkers were either on my payroll or working pro bono through the mainstream media, I might try and get away by telling a few whoppers myself. Now I know that there might be a few people reading this who might say, “But Craig, whatever are you talking about?  John Gregg would never tell a fib in the pursuit of his election to governor. Surely, you must be mistaken.” Well, I’m old enough and experienced enough to not just rely on my own political party’s communications mill. I’m here to tell you that I lived through John Gregg’s enlightened leadership of the Indiana House while he served as both majority leader and speaker.
  • KOKOMO – When you take on the job of a political party chairman, you enter your tenure with visions of political lollipops dancing in your head. You imagine all of the nifty things you’ll accomplish in the name of the cause. You salivate over creating targeted marketing programs, systematic fundraising processes and candidate development.  Then, very quickly, perhaps within two or three days, you realize that you are going to be doing things that no one told you about. Scrubbing toilets at Republican Headquarters, I realized that there might be things that I would be called upon to do that weren’t in the brochures touting the glamorous and exciting lifestyles of a Republican County chairman. Ten years into my sentence, make that service, as a GOP chair, I’ve done things that I never anticipated doing and seen events that amaze and astound. I’ve done some things they just can’t get laboratory rats to do, all in the service of my party. Last April, our Republican HQ started being bombarded with telephone calls asking when we would have Donald Trump signs for distribution. The callers were polite but quickly became agitated when told that sign distribution during primaries was largely up to the individual candidates.
  • KOKOMO – I hereby dedicate this column to former Indiana 2nd District U.S. Rep. Earl Landgrebe. Congressman Landgrebe immortalized the comment, “Don’t confuse me with the facts” during the Watergate hearings in 1974. His eloquent and timely use of this statement has been subliminally picked up and adopted by both major political parties as they go on their merry way to the bankrupting of our nation. Of course, I could have dedicated this column just as easily to one of the great philosophers of my youth, Alfred E. Neuman. His monthly mantra, “What Me Worry?” closely reflects the fiscal discipline so ably practiced by our Congress and presidents for at least the last 50 years.  Our United States government is totally devoid of a single scintilla of synergy. We elect intelligent representatives and senators, put them in the same building and crank out more toxic waste than you’d find in the Love Canal. The root cause of this legislative morass is the giant sausage-making machine that we fondly refer to as democracy. The sum of our legislative parts just doesn’t add up to a positive number.
  • KOKOMO – Howard County and the City of Kokomo are not the first areas to be visited by the destructive forces of a tornado, nor are they the victims of the worst tornado. They are the victims of three nasty twisters that touched down last Wednesday. When you are in the middle of a tornado you don’t spend a lot of time debating whether it is an F2, F3 or F4 storm that is flattening your house, destroying your business or totally disrupting your day-to-day life.  There’s quite a bit of chance and luck that goes into determining whether you emerge alive from a big tornado. When and where the twister touches down, the time of day, how long and wide the path of destruction and the day of the week are all variables that go into Mother Nature’s lottery of life. Of course, decisions and actions taken by governmental bodies and individuals also help or hinder the ultimate outcome of the tragedy of a tornado. Very accidentally, I found myself at ground zero in the direct path of the tornado at 3:20 p.m.  Sometimes innocent decisions can alter your life. Thankfully, my number didn’t come up on the big old wheel of fortune this time. It was 2:25, and I was in the family room of my home, entertaining my brother visiting from Florida. It was sunny outside but you could hear a faint rumbling of thunder from the west.
  • KOKOMO – One month ago I traveled up U.S. Highway 35 from Kokomo to northern Indiana for a company golf outing. Highway 35 leads through a political mixture of both Democratic and Republican bastions as you snake your way to LaPorte. I found this trip noteworthy for the political yard signs that were sprinkled along the way. “Pence Must Go” and “Fire Pence” signs dotted the roadway in several locations.  I had seen the same signs in yards along Capitol Avenue in Indianapolis, ever since the heated brouhaha over the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act exploded in the public mindset. Mind you, these aren’t hand-painted signs by individuals expressing their anger. These signs are professionally done and distributed as part of a longterm strategy to win the 2016 Indiana governor’s race by vilifying Mike Pence. Oops! The problem with putting all of your chips on one number of the roulette wheel is that your number better come up or you are busted. With Gov. Pence accepting the vice presidential nomination on the Trump ticket, removing him from the Indiana ballot, the obsessive focus of John Gregg and the Democratic Party on a “Pence Must Go” strategy has left them flat busted.
  • CLEVELAND – I confess that I wasn’t really looking forward to attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. It had the potential to range all the way from nauseating to dangerous, based on the hype leading up to the event. Advance news reporting by the major media outlets predicted deep divisions in the convention between Trump supporters and anti-Trump forces, deadly terrorist attacks, paralyzing traffic jams caused by civil disobedience and a list of speakers that excited no one. Once again, the big media got it wrong, totally wrong. The Republican National Convention was an outstanding success. It was full of drama, full of excitement and a good showing for Team Trump. As to the location, I don’t want to hear another person refer to Cleveland as the “Mistake on the Lake.”  Cleveland rocked, literally and figuratively. Cleveland is a great city with big city attractions and some of the friendliest people in the nation. Of course, the big worry going into the RNC was the question of public safety. We were told there would be thousands of protesters wreaking havoc on Cleveland and the convention. The reality was that Cleveland was possibly the safest city in the United States last week, as thousands of imported law enforcement officers and a shortage of serious protesters made for a great environment.
  • KOKOMO – I have a deep dark secret to confide. I am one of the most committed Anglophiles in the United States. I love everything British. I love the history. I love the monarchy. I love the tradition. I even love that funny language they call English. Despite the fact that George Bernard Shaw once said that, “Americans and the British are two peoples separated by a common language,” I find myself proud that my heritage springs from the land of King Harold, Robin Hood and Winston Churchill.  Heck, if Henry VIII hadn’t sent my ancestors from Scotland to Northern Ireland in an effort to whip those Emerald Islanders into shape, I might be living at the foot of Castle Hill, in Edinburgh, selling bangers and mash from a street cart. Unfortunately, the survival manual distributed by Henry VIII to the emigrants sent to Northern Ireland didn’t reveal the secret about how to grow potatoes in rocky soil. The desire to eat being a rather strong incentive, my ancestors sailed for the New World and the availability of Big Macs.
  • KOKOMO – Indiana Republicans can be proud that they took a giant leap forward on Saturday, when delegates to the Indiana Republican State Convention nominated Elkhart County Prosecutor Curtis Hill to be their candidate for Indiana attorney general.  In a continuation of a political evolutionary process that witnessed three incredibly talented women lead the Indiana statewide Republican ticket in 2014, delegates to the 2016 Republican state convention created an historical moment with the Hill nomination.  Curtis Hill became the first African-American Republican to be nominated  for a statewide constitutional office. First and foremost, Curtis Hill deserved the nomination. A four-term county prosecutor, Hill hit the entire State of Indiana like an April tornado.  Endorsed by 40 of his peers, Hill quickly served notice last year that he was in it to win it with hard work and a great message.
  • KOKOMO – What a difference a month makes! One month ago, Republicans in Indiana were drawing battle lines in the rarest of rarities, a primary that actually meant something. In a ham-handed deal, John Kasich and Ted Cruz worked up a “deal” in an effort to derail Donald Trump’s express train to the Republican presidential nomination. Kasich cleared the field and Cruz crowed that without the distraction of a third candidate, he would put the Donald in his place. One month ago, liberal and conservative pundits predicted that the Republican presidential race would come down to a contested convention that would destroy the Republican Party. One month ago, Hillary Clinton led Donald Trump in national polls by nearly 20 percent. One month ago, with the elite of the Indiana Democrats backing her, Hillary Clinton looked to win the Indiana primary and close out the Democratic presidential race. One month ago, John Gregg was shopping for a big old comfortable chair for his future digs in the governor’s office, while counting his big labor donations to his gubernatorial campaign.
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  • Rokita and Messer's growing 'feud'
    “Messer is attacking me for using my small prop plane to travel Indiana meeting Hoosiers – the same plane I use doing charity work for wounded veterans and sick children. He's questioning my ethics. However, as the reporter notes, I have done nothing unethical and followed all relevant laws.” - U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly on the developing “feud” between he and his potential GOP U.S. Senate rival, U.S. Rep. Luke Messer.
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  • The smirking Russians are laughing at us, literally
    NBC’s Peter Alexander’s report Friday night on NBC Nightly News was enough to get my blood boiling. In the wake of President Trump’s tin optic Oval Office meeting with Russian envoys the day after he fired FBI Director James Comey, Trump told the Russians that Comey was a “nut job” and that the “pressure" of the Russian probe has been “taken off.” Alexander panned to a press conference by a “smirking” Russian President Vladimir Putin, who accused the American press and Congress of “political schizophrenia.” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and other Russian diplomats were seen laughing. Folks, the Russians aren’t laughing with us, they are laughing at us. Pathetic. - Brian A. Howey, Publisher
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